Growing up with a mom diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder was difficult, and although there are things she cannot change, I've forgiven her. Sometimes I see myself in her, the good and the bad, and she has become my main confidant in life when I'm struggling. Regardless of my upbringing, regardless of the lows and highs, we have both experienced together, I am thankful for all that she has taught me.
My monster cannot change all of the weeks I spent as a child laying in bed with It because it simply could not get up. It cannot change the way words can feel like cold daggers when thrown by the right person. It cannot change the violence I witnessed, the blood and the anger I've never seen in anyone besides myself. Mania was her vice, along with the substances she used to control it. I was ten years old when It detailed how it downed the rest of It's Xanax bottle the night before, held it's rosary and prayed it wouldn't wake up. This, however, was not my mother. This was my monster.
A foe worse than any boogie man or goblin on her bad days. My monster tells me I need to grow thick skin, I need to grow up. It tells me I am weak, that it has to love me but does not have to like me. It screams when I've asked simple questions, shouts in the face of my father over flat tires, money, a change in tone, light-hearted jokes thrown at the wrong moment. My monster breaks candles and glass bottles over my father's body. It threatens to run away, kill itself, start a new life without a family that holds it back.
My mother is exuberant. She is full of color and passion. She has the loudest laugh and widest smile when we joke. Strong-willed, although synonymous with stubborn, is still a good characteristic. Nights spent dancing in the kitchen making caramel apples and drinking sparkling juice because she knew it made me feel "fancy". Beds made on couches by her, because I was too sick to go to school. Countless three a.m breakdowns consoled by the woman who understood me most because she knows the monster that takes her place sometimes feels the same way I do. Secrets shared in dark rooms while waiting to see if the sun really would rise again. Summer days lost to lounging in the sun with her.
This is when my mother lives on sunshine and the stories I tell her. She breathes in my worries and exhales confidence and guidance. She tells me I am beautiful. Her advice falling from her mouth, pooling at her feet to water the seeds I have sown but have been too melancholy to care for. She hands out vouchers for self-forgiveness in her words. The only person in this life who can tell me she gets it just by looking at me. This is my mother.
There are things I cannot change either. I cannot change the look on my mother's face when my dad and I refused to read the books she brought home titled "Living With Someone Who's Living With Bipolar" and "When Someone You Love is Bipolar". I cannot change the years I let her lay in her bed alone. I cannot change the times I have wished her dead, wished her different at least. I cannot change my childhood or the anxiety it has given me.
A time came where I realized that I cannot have my mother without my monster. They need each other to exist and she is worth all of the heartache she causes. I believe I have forgiven my Bipolar Mother for the things she cannot change.